JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Airmen from the 627th and 446th Security Forces Squadrons from McChord Field conducted the first Air Force-instructed M153 Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station trainer course for Army combat engineers Jan. 26 to Feb. 6 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Designed to familiarize and certify Soldiers and Airmen with the remote weapon system, the joint forces course is a unique opportunity for both services to work together while learning about the function and operation of the M153 CROWS.
“The M153 CROWS is a force multiplier that takes vehicle gunners out of the turret and into the safety of the vehicle they are riding in,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Rafael Delvalle, a M153 CROWS instructor from the 627th SFS. “The interface within the vehicle allows gunners to remotely maneuver the system, identify and range targets and fire a variety of crew-served weapons. These include the 40 mm Mark19 grenade launcher, the M2 Browning .50-caliber machine gun, the M240B machine gun and the M249 light machine gun.”
Like something out of a video game or a flight simulator, gunners use a monitor and a joystick to operate the weapons mounted atop the vehicle. The cameras on the CROWS offer real-time video of the vehicle’s surroundings with the option to toggle color daylight, low-light, infrared and thermal optics at the touch of a button.
“There’s no doubt that that this system will save lives,” said Army Sgt. Breanna Walton, a combat engineer from the 571st Sapper Company, 864th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade. “Gunners will no longer be a target standing in the turret and (now will be) using a system called, ‘Boomerang.’ The CROWS uses specialized microphones that detect sniper fire and tell you almost exactly where enemy fire is coming from.”
Learning to operate the system together, Soldiers and Airmen from the joint base offer their expertise and experience in a collaborative environment that builds trust and understanding.
“Its been great learning more about the CROWS, especially from Air Force instructors,” said Army Sgt. Robert Terrell, a combat engineer from Triple Nickel’s 22nd Engineer Clearance Company. “I’ve taken the refresher course before but have always been instructed by Soldiers. So far, we’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks that the Airmen use with these weapon systems that we would have never learned otherwise.”
During the two-week course, students learn everything they need to know about the CROWS with an end goal of being able to teach it themselves to Soldiers and Airmen in their own platoons and squadrons.
“Training the future trainer is a cornerstone of this course,” Delvalle said. “We hope to impart our knowledge on how to operate the CROWS safely and effectively while bridging the gap between our separate services. Being on a joint base is an incredible opportunity for all of us to learn and work together to accomplish any mission.”
Joint Base Lewis-McChord